View from Slipway

This ancient fortress, standing at the mouth of Belfast Lough is entered via a gatehouse, flanked by two semi-circular towers with arrow slits and is further defended by a machicolation outside the gateway and two massive portcullises at either end of the gatehouse with a murder hole between them.

This castle has witnessed generations of history – and has featured in the story of Ulster and Scotland from earliest times.  It is said that in the 6th century, Fergus Mac Eirc, King of Dalriada, crossing from Scotland to Ulster, perished on a rock in the bay – and the name ‘Carrickfergus’ (the rock of Fergus) dates to then.

The castle dates from around 1178 and was begun by the Anglo-Norman knight, John de Courcy.   It was besieged for over a year by Lord Edward Bruce of Scotland in 1315 and legend tells that he was crowned High King of Ireland here.  The castle was later recaptured by the English, and the whole area around Carrickfergus was transformed by Sir Arthur Chichester in the early 17th century when new settlers from the Scottish Lowlands settled in this area, developing the town’s Scotch Quarter and introducing their culture, language and lifestyle to the area.